No matter how highly develop and powerful the intellect is, at some point it reaches the limits of its power and acknowledges that all of its activity is limited within a frame that prevents it from knowing anything with certainty. The intellect builds steps of logic based on various assumptions and perceptions, yet the assumptions are always subject to review and revision and the perceptions have been proven to be faulty and biased by the limits of the instruments of perception, the senses. When humanity asserts with certainty any intellectual position, it finds, eventually, that it must repudiate that assertion, or at least modify it, as new information arises. The sun rotates around the earth according to the obvious perception and reasoning of the mind. Further research, and development of new tools to aid perception, let us see that in fact, the earth moves around the sun and rotates to create the illusory perception of our earth-centric intellectual assertion. So it is with any seeking after an ultimate cause, whether we call it God, or Creator, or First Cause.

The intellect tends to build its logical steps up to a point where it reaches the boundary of thought. Eventually it determines that it cannot finally determine anything at all with finality. Perception can be flawed or biased. The assumptions may be incorrect. The reality may simply exceed what the mind can fully comprehend. If there is to be any true knowledge about the nature and meaning of existence, it must come from some other direction than from the promptings of the intellectual reason.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “European metaphysical thought — even in those thinkers who try to prove or explain the existence and nature of God or of the Absolute — does not in its method and result go beyond the intellect. But the intellect is incapable of knowing the supreme Truth; it can only range about seeking for Truth, and catching fragmentary representations of it, not the thing itself, and trying to piece them together. Mind cannot arrive at Truth; it can only make some constructed figure that tries to represent it or a combination of figures. At the end of European thought, therefore, there must always be an Agnosticism, declared or implicit. Intellect, if it goes sincerely to its own end, has to return and give this report: ‘I cannot know; there is, or at least it seems to me that there may be or even must be Something beyond, some ultimate Reality, but about its truth I can only speculate; it is either unknowable or cannot be known by me.’ Or, if it has received some light on the way from what is beyond it, it can say too: ‘There is perhaps a consciousness beyond Mind, for I seem to catch glimpses of it and even to get intimations from it. If that is in touch with the Beyond or if it is itself the consciousness of the Beyond and you can find some way to reach it, then this Something can be known but not otherwise.’ “ Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Integral Yoga and the Ordinary Life, pg. 23

Author's Bio: 

Santosh Krinsky has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and now publishes a daily blog at He is the author of 16 books and is editor in chief at Lotus Press and President of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.